He stopped recording. That was it, wasn’t it? Daniel stopped to think about what had happened over the last three hours. At least, he presumed it was three hours. He had no way to tell time besides to look out a window, and those were few and far between.
Not recalling anything else, he closed his notes, put them away, and slowly stood. He stood in silence, simply listening. No, there were no sounds of the floor creaking under a monster’s weight, or any sound of the previously mentioned letting out a growl. The coast was clear then. He lit the lantern, showing the small room around him. Quiet. Very quiet. While the silence could be unnerving, he liked it. It told him no one was near. At least, none in the physical plane. A sudden gust of wind could blow though, or those strange howling sounds that seem to come from every direction.
Daniel, calm yourself. He snapped. Indeed, he needed to calm down. His grip on the lantern had tightened and his knuckles were turning white. It wasn’t a first, but he needed to be more careful. You cannot let your sanity slip so easily.
Ready to start again, he shifted his weight to take one step forward.
There. Did you hear that?
Daniel froze; his boot an inch no more above the floor.
In the hallway.
His breathing had stopped, his eyes locked on the door leading out to the hallway. Someone was out there. He took his foot back, and stared. Who was that? It sounded as if someone were actually there.
Then they sounded again; three steps further away from the door.
They sound so light.
Indeed, the foot steps were too light to belong to any man, but still too light to belong to any woman. It was a child. The sound of them suited that of a child’s footsteps. What sort of twisted game was being played on him this time? No. Perhaps it was a child, being kept locked up in this god forsaken castle. Even so, you must remain cautious, Daniel! Yes, yes of course. He waved off his own thoughts, before stepping forward, trying not to make much noise himself.
By this point, the child had begun walking away once more, but stopped upon hearing Daniel’s footsteps. Trembling, he reached forward, took a tight grip onto the door handle, twisted it, and with an old creaking sound of complaint from the door, opened it. What he saw shocked him.
It was a small girl, at least, he thought it had once been. The body was that of a girl, no more than fourteen years old or so, but the head…
The head was a lamp. A lamp, like you would see on the side of the street, or hanging somewhere on the porch of a house. That was the head. The pink skirt twirled as the body moved so it would be able to see him. Even still, with it ‘facing’ him, there were no eyes. Could this thing even see him? What was it? Daniel was frozen in place once again, and it seemed the small girl was too. In fact, they might have stayed as such if a low growling hadn’t been heard. It was close too.
Daniel suddenly erupted into a fit of trembles. His sanity dropped, he could feel it. Yes, it had dropped upon seeing the girl, but the situation didn’t see as dangerous, but this was different. If there was a monster nearby then there was an obvious danger, and therefore more damage to his sanity. He quickly turned the lantern off, but quickly realized it was futile – the monster was already too close. There was nothing left to do but run away. Daniel took a step to the right, ready to run down the opposite side of the hall to escape, before he remembered the girl.
His sanity once again took another nose dive. The remaining light from her head had diminished, only to be replaced by a dim red light.
Her head was now a traffic light, with the light set to red. A yelp escaped his throat. No! They were taking too long, by this point the monster –
Daniel’s head jerked up to tear his gaze from the girl to the monster behind her. His vision blurred, he could no longer keep his balance, and stumbled back, clutching at the ground for some sort of support, but even that seemed to crumble underneath his grip. Everything was dark. He couldn’t see. Everything was closing in.
How much time had passed? A few minutes? Hours? All he knew of was the warm glow coming from his lantern, hovering above him. He stared into it, savoring the light and taking in every bit of it, before looking past the light, at the one holding it.
It was the girl, her head still a traffic light set to red. He flinched back, before swiftly standing and grabbing the lantern.
Then there it was again. The monster. It’s stretched and distorted jaw and bulged out eyes staring straight at him, with its claw reaching out to slash at him and deal a heavy blow. It was the hardest thing not to simply pass out again from fright, but upon gaining his senses, Daniel realized the most peculiar thing; the monster was frozen. Not frozen literally, with cool waves radiating from it, but frozen in time. Not moving in the slightest.
Was it dead? He certainly hoped. Remembering the girl, he looked back down at her. She was ‘looking’ up at him, the red light glaring into his eyes. Even if the creature was seemly frozen in time, he didn’t quite enjoy being near it. It still scared him.
“C-Come on.” Daniel spoke up lightly to the girl, reaching down and taking her hand. “We need to get out of here.”
She made no gesture of complaint or reluctance, and followed along.
They walked and walked, taking turns down various halls and into rooms, looking either for a way out or in Daniel’s case – Alexander. He had no sort of idea what the girl was looking for or doing here for that matter, but she only continued to follow, not making a sound. What if she’s a monster too? Waiting for the precise moment when she will be allotted time to stab you in the back? He thought to himself. This was true, but he couldn’t ever seem to get himself to let go of her hand. Daniel took comfort in her presence, and he hoped he did the same for her.
At one point or other, he looked back at her, and found she looked quite normal. Her head was no longer changed in some odd way. She looked like a normal girl; long brown hair tied into two braids with short bangs, chocolate brown eyes that were half lidded with what looked like boredom or tiredness, and a pudgy little face. He smiled down at her. “I must say, it is rather nice to see you face finally.”
Her mouth was shut tight, and no response followed his statement. It wasn’t a frown, and it wasn’t just a straight line; it was just closed – expressionless. He sighed before looking back ahead. He was extremely tired himself, but he wasn’t about to stop to rest again. They had only been walking for 30 minutes or so.
After another long time of walking in silence, there came a noise. A low, guttural, growling sound. It was back! It was back and this time they would not have the odd chance of it freezing as it had before. He turned down the lantern and dashed down the hall holding tightly onto the girl’s hand, who seemed not to protest or even look remotely scared. Then they reached a dead end. “No!” Daniel cried out, letting go of the girl and sinking to his feet. Maybe if he just kept still enough and quiet, he would have a chance.
However, these hopes did not last long at all. From the dark hall ahead, he began to make out the monster’s shape, coming closer and closer; limping along. “It’s over! I’m done!”
Then there was the girl again, looking at the monster down the hall, and then back at Daniel, her face as fearless as ever. “How can you maintain your composure?” He cried, tears slowly starting to form in his eyes. “How is it that someone as small and helpless as you, stays so calm?”
The monster was getting closer. They would not last anymore than 10 seconds, and that’s all she needed.
The girl in the pink skirt and knitted pink sweater knelt down in front of him, her brown eyes looking into his green ones. Her left hand reached up to her cheek, and her right to his, lightly grabbing a fold of skin. Simultaneously, she pinched harder, and twisted their skin. He could hardly recognize the pinch of pain, compared to the jolt of pain that shot up his head from suddenly jerking up.
Books upon books, old and new, adorned the shelves. Some shelves had collapsed under the weight of the books, and some books looked like they had been thrown from their place on the shelf onto the floor. Daniel's notebook lay open on his lap, the writing gradually looking sloppier before the ink only left a small trail off the page. He looked up, to his left, right, around, and down. His hand reached up and touched his cheek, where he was sure there must be a red mark from the pinch.
“How can you prove whether at this moment we are sleeping, and all our thoughts are a dream; or whether we are awake, and talking to one another in the waking state?” – Plato